Chapter 37: There are No Private Matters for Trainees
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
The eye-catching boy turned around, and hence, the men clustered around him did too.
Upon seeing Xia Ling being surrounded, Li Lei’s brow furrowed, and he did a hand signal. On this command, the crowd of tall men stopped laughing and quickly resumed their professionality and got into position. What seemed like a crowd that one could easily breeze through immediately became an iron wall of sorts, and a vague sense of lethality buzzed in the air.
The hold that the two bodyguards had on Xia Ling tightened.
The atmosphere turned into silence.
There was a pause before Li Lei chuckled. “What is Imperial Entertainment’s Mr. Pei doing with my artiste?”
Pei Ziheng looked serious. “Li Lei, this is a private matter.”
Xia Ling’s heart leaped into her throat, fearing that Pei Ziheng’s rationale would turn Li Lei away immediately. After all, her boss never really mixed his relations with work, and shortly before she had just rejected becoming his lover, so surely she must have dealt a blow to his reputation somehow. If he wanted to be a bystander and watch her get humiliated and bullied, this was the perfect time for him to do it.
Yet, he just looked curiously at Pei Ziheng. “Skyart Entertainment trainees have no private matters.”
Xia Ling let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding and immediately felt like her boss was a great person. He was clearly planning on intervening. And he was not completely wrong, Skyart’s trainees did not have any secrets — trainees were backup artistes, and in the eyes of an artiste, there was no divide between what was private and what was public.
“Li Lei,” Pei Ziheng’s voice rang low, mildly amused, “she’s just a small fry. I can’t believe someone as important as you can recognize a mere trainee.”
Li Lei innocently replied, “I am a boss that cares about my employees.”
He started again. “Mr. Pei, please release Ye Xingling. She is still a kid, so she still makes mistakes. If she offended you in the past, please let me take her to the task. I will be made answerable for her mistakes.”
Pei Ziheng studied him deeply, an unreadable look on his face.
Li Lei’s demeanor still had not changed. He was relaxed, a half-smile was playing on his lips as the tens of men behind him continued to step up their guard. The tension in the air was thick and suffocating.
On the other hand, Pei Ziheng only had two bodyguards, and Xia Ling in tow.
Finally, Pei Ziheng lightly raised his hand.
The bodyguards let Xia Ling go.
The moment of freedom startled her momentarily, in disbelief that it came so simply, that Pei Ziheng had moments of weakness as well. Yet, immediately after, her heart swelled with dismay…
“Why are you still standing there, come over here.” She heard Li Lei say.
A moment of clarity struck her, and she clambered over to his side, staying close behind his figure. His gang of men swarmed around her, and she tried to calm down as cold sweat drenched her back.
Pei Ziheng’s eyes never left her, targeting closely, and it was becoming a thorn in her back.
Li Lei shifted, almost unnoticeably, and his figure eclipsed hers.
“Li Lei,” Pei Ziheng spoke slowly. “you can defend her now, but that doesn’t mean you can do the same for the rest of her life.”
“I don’t need you to worry about that now, Director Pei.” Li Lei grinned.
As the words fell, he raised his hand again, and the entire procession headed towards the elevators.
As she slipped into the elevator, Xia Ling could not help but turn her head, and through the crevices of the crowd, she caught glimpses of Pei Ziheng. He hadn’t moved since then, but his gaze was unpenetrable. His eyes were trained on her like flames, like an abyss she couldn’t crawl out of.
The fear struck her again, and she scrambled into the elevator.
As the doors slid shut, the men broke into chatter. “Boss, are you for real? Even something like a trip to the hospital can make you a hero? This little beauty is from Skyart’s training program? I thought you hardly cared about that business?”
“That’s right, Boss, introduce us to her.”
“Little beauty, do not be afraid, you have brothers like us here. People won’t even dream of bullying you.”
As they chattered, at that moment the intimidating men that had faced-off with Pei Ziheng were no more, replaced with gossipy aunties that wanted the latest scoop. Xia Ling could feel the onset of a headache, and the remaining slivers of trauma and pain from before had been eliminated thanks to the chaos. Whoever said that a group of noisy women were like a flock of ducks clearly hadn’t seen what a group of noisy men could do.
In the chaos, only Li Lei remained quiet, chuckling at the sight with his arms pressed against the glass wall.
She was caged beside him at close proximity, and she could even observe his breathing pattern and smell the sunshine and fresh grass on his skin. It was the most comforting feeling in the world.
It wasn’t long before they reached the basement, the door opening with a ding.
The crowd spilled out, bidding their farewells to Li Lei before haphazardly making their separate ways.
Before she knew it, it was just the both of them again.
Xia Ling raised her head to look at him. In the dim light of the garage, his eyes were dark and deep, and his chiseled features were as handsome as ever. With one hand in his pocket, he looked like a billboard model, stunning beyond words. It was hard to believe that this person had saved her from Pei Ziheng.
“Thank you, Boss,” she said sincerely.
Unsmiling, he replied, “Instead of thanking me, how about you give thanks to your luck. Do you not want to live anymore? Why would you mess with Pei Ziheng?”
She didn’t—couldn’t reply. How could she say that she hadn’t been actively out there looking for trouble? That Pei Ziheng had tracked her down and had come in for the kill himself? Nobody would believe her. “I was in the wrong,” she said, resigned.
His attractive brows furrowed, considering her for a moment.
Now she genuinely didn’t know why he was unhappy with her again.
“I don’t like it when people brush me off.” He said. “And it’s not like you to wreak havoc any other day either. If you are so quick to apologize, I am sure there’s something you aren’t telling me. Tell me the truth, how did you get on Pei Ziheng’s bad side?”
Her heart leaped again, surprised at his acute inference skills. He was right, she had apologized early on in order to let the situation die quicker. And her past with Pei Ziheng had been a rollercoaster of emotions, too intense for her to consider without feeling the same flashes of trauma again.
She only wanted to give the simplest explanation.
But Li Lei refused to let the matter rest, instead of waiting in silence for her response.
She tilted her head, not wishing to meet his eyes. “Pei Ziheng…” Just speaking the name itself expended much of her energy trying to quash down her feelings, “is interested in me. He wants me to be his woman. I don’t know what he sees in me.”
The look in Li Lei’s eyes deepened. There was still something more that she wasn’t revealing, his detective skills nagged, but he decided to let the matter rest upon seeing the clenched fists by her sides…
He then smiled and thoughtfully changed the topic. “Where are you staying? I’ll send you home.”
“Ah?” She questioned in disbelief, never having expected her own boss to be so nice. “It’s okay, it will be a hassle. I can go back on my own.”
“You want to go on your own?” He scoffed. “I don’t mind but, I’m afraid you won’t make it in time because Pei Ziheng’s minions might be at it again.”
Xia Ling remembered Pei Ziheng’s gaze, and a shiver ran down her spine.
“Then, could you… send me back to training camp.” She whispered.
She definitely could not return to the Ye’s. After all, her so-called “parents” had already betrayed her once, and surely had no qualms about betraying her once again. She had not yet grown familiar to other places, and upon deep thought, the only place she was comfortable with was the training camp.
Li Lei laughed again. “You really are giving me a run for my money, huh. We are now in South City, but camp is in North City. Having to cut across the city is one thing, but the problem is that the traffic at this timing is terrible. Ye Xingling, you’re kidding me, right?”